The race for House speaker continues on with no apparent end in sight, entering its fourth day and 10th vote, the most of any speaker race since 1923. The chances of Rep.-elect Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) winning the seat seem to be increasingly diminishing as a relentless opposition continues to stand strong against him.
Though McCarthy’s speakership ambitions have been obstructed by a camp of lawmakers seemingly voting “Never Kevin” in spite of promises and compromises, no viable alternative to McCarthy has arisen. However, a few GOP lawmakers could well be within striking distance.
During the first two votes for GOP speaker of the House, Rep.-elect Byron Donalds (R-FL) voted for McCarthy, but in the third round switched gears and gave his vote instead to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). Being the first lawmaker to change his vote, he was later nominated for speaker and garnered significant support from the 20 members who are opposing McCarthy as speaker.
Donalds was first elected in 2020 to represent Florida’s 19th Congressional District and is entering his second term in the 118th Congress.
Donalds was nominated by Rep.-elect Chip Roy (R-TX) who said Wednesday, “For the first time in history there have been two Black Americans placed into the nomination for speaker of the House.”
If elected, Donalds would serve as the first Black Republican speaker of the House.
Another contender is Rep.-elect Steve Scalise (R-LA), the No. 2 Republican in the House and deputy to McCarthy. He has been listed as a possible alternative as the race for House speaker has continued. While Scalise has denied interest in the position, the congressman has been seen by many as a viable alternative to McCarthy.
The 57-year-old congressman is entering his eighth term in the House. Scalise made headlines in 2017 after he was shot by a left-wing extremist in 2017 during a baseball practice for the annual congressional baseball game.
On Tuesday, McCarthy appeared to laugh in response to a reporter’s question on the possibility of a Speaker Scalise.
Rep.-elect Elise Stefanik, (R-NY) sits as the third-ranking Republican in the House and has not been nominated in the race for House speaker yet. Some have still seen her as a potential alternative to McCarthy; however, she has supported McCarthy for speaker in every vote at the start of the 118th Congress.
Stefanik, who has served as the chair of the House Republican Conference since 2021 when she replaced former Rep. Liz Cheney, was the youngest woman ever elected to Congress when she first entered the House in 2014 at 30 years old.
Finally, Rep.-elect Jim Jordan (R-OH) was the second Republican candidate to be nominated in the closely watched race for speaker, despite expressing disinterest in the role.
Jordan was voted for by several representatives in the first ballot for speaker on Tuesday and was officially nominated by Rep.-elect Matt Gaetz (R-FL) on the second ballot.
While many of the members seeking to block McCarthy’s speakership bid rallied support for Jordan, the Ohio representative himself pledged to continue supporting McCarthy on the House floor, urging others to do the same.
“It is a privilege. It is an opportunity. We owe it to them, the American people, the good people of this great country, to step forward, to come together, get a speaker elected so we can address these three things,” Jordan said while nominating McCarthy.
Under McCarthy, Jordan is expected to become the chair of the House Judiciary Committee where he served as ranking member under the Democrat-controlled House.